why is it that i hear screams in the night. when i close my eyes, and it’s quiet. flashbacks of you, having to be restrained. you biting, biting. i’m bleeding. memories of you strapped down, pulled full of ketamine. close your eyes, close your eyes. i’m pleading.
making me hunger for winter
the way the marble meets the sleepy sun’s
rouge that lingers in the evening
causing pangs I didn’t even know existed
thought I had my fill many years ago
when my feet were frozen to the ground
when I was surviving waist-high
in that frigid, blinding snow
red chameleon beckoned me out
entranced me with its glossy glaze
matched the blood that fell from me
walked past the broken grill
with the torn black cover
said hello to the baby leaves
let the purple tendrils wrap themselves
around my knees
“Stay with us forever!”
I pretend to hear them plead
What beautiful, caring creatures – I think
look up at the black
feel the moisture run down my back
marvel that it’s too humid to even breathe
watch the red chameleon crawl into
a place that I cannot go
we all can’t be Alice that gets to fall
into that glorious rabbit hole
look away – rip my eyes from its gaze
feel the purple tendrils unwrap their grip
from my knees
go back into my crumbling house
ignore their saddened stance
ignore their fictitious pleas
that foam hung around for a long time
tickled my arms
tickled my nose
so I couldn’t breathe
reminded me of that time long ago
I held my breath when I was born
held it so long
that they told him I died
when he told that story
it was the only time
I ever saw him cry
this beaten down shell of a woman
the one with the grandest dreams
grew tired of seeing her shadow at the bottom
let the violins lead her out of the water
to take a walk under the August sun
journey for days on end without sleep
burdened with thirst but not take a drink
until that duty called her back in
to cut her feet on those flawed, broken shells
back in to swim with the eels
back to the that beaten down shell of a woman
The day he turned 15, she was attacked by wolves in the parking lot of her son’s therapist. The drive had been long, and when she looked in her rearview mirror, she found her son staring out the window, holding his hands praying. She stepped out of her car when the wolves overtook her son. Men were fixing tires and changing the oil in the nearby lot, but they couldn’t hear her cries over their noise. A woman waited in her car but didn’t appear to want to help. People were ordering their lunch in the McDonald’s drive-thru but didn’t seem to see.
The biggest wolf, the one with the pale eyes, came from behind her and snagged her shirt while the other two clawed at her arms till she bled. She danced around the lot for what seemed to be forever, but they had just wanted to play with her, they were bored. Or maybe one had heard a voice and convinced the others of its scheme. Perhaps they just had their usual bad thoughts.
She walked into the therapist’s office holding her bleeding arms. Her face collapsed into her trembling hands, and she cried out of exhaustion. She left forty-five minutes later and drove north to eat crap food while her son sat next to her and turned 15. The year where most young blossoms are getting permits and going to movies with friends. The year of growth and possibilities. But she sat grieving as he turned another year older yet seemed to stay the same.
The year he turned 15 – every sound hurt her ears. The lawn mowers, the closing of doors, that chip bag, her spoon against the bowl slurping up Rice Chex. Even the gorgeous birds had a way of gnawing at her brain. Some of the bird calls would make her wince and moan. One day she chased blue jays out of the coconut palms; their territorial sounds stabbed at her eardrums. She watched them soar up to the clouds with their excited calls. Good riddance. Then she’d go back to her hell to make her coffee and there she could even hear the sound of her forming tears.
The year he turned 15 – they made it a habit of keeping shoes by their back door for sudden escapes. Run quick, they did. The neighbors probably thought they were playing chase, but they were running from his frenzy, his fury, his fuming, his fists. Those fists that always landed on her arms. Arms that became swollen and purple mixed with an odd charcoal gray. But she had stopped reaching for the ice. It was the year where toasters flew off the counters and where doors were torn off hinges as if by Hulk himself.
She’d listen attentively and say all the right things, but she’d still get new marks by the end of the day. What was wrong with her? Would she ever get it right, this business of raising her complicated, miserable, yet beautiful son? She still loved him though, and on a good day, she would play with the back of his hair. Golden, wispy, slightly curled up hair. She’d think. Why is it dread instead of joy, looking at this man that’s still a boy? And wonder. Is love even enough?
And then mid-way through the year, he came after her with such rage, her arms abandoned her. They were tired of the pain, so they just simply ran away. It wasn’t her choice, of course, she had loved her arms. It was all those desperate words and his sheer brute-force. So she stood around with no arms, and when he went ballistic, he had no choice but to go for her face. And by this point – she wished she was far out in outer space, floating about only hearing the sound of her heartbeat. It would be a familiar sound.
That year, she went half dead and was almost unrecognizable. She stopped marveling at the black butterflies that slowly fluttered past. And when the swans tried to drown each other, she didn’t interfere; she didn’t shed a tear. She stopped buying orchids; they just didn’t take her breath away as they had. She lost her spark – the whole damn world made her mad. She chose to swim with the sharks than heed the lifeguard’s warnings. Watch its shadow cruise past then place her broken hand on its fin and tell it to swim. Look up to the blazing sun, be amazed and give everything up to Him.
the numbness set in
she had a great deal to say
but that damn sadness crept in
sly little imp it was.
the crying spells set in
she had so many plans for the day
but that damn loss of hope crept in
clever little demon it was.
the emptiness set in
she used to pray and pray
but that damn nothingness crept in
cruel little devil it was.
she lost her words, lost her memory
so damn unfortunate because
she had so many beautiful memories
but that was
I feel like I’m on an island
in this stupid paradise
been here 5 years
since we ran from the corn and ice
but I was happy then
it wasn’t perfect but we had a life
I miss people, I miss talking
in that wonderful coffee shop
you know, the one next
to the bookstore that looked like a vault
instead I’m here
placing blame, saying, it’s not my fault
Now surrounded by palm trees
and endless sun, I’m here
crestfallen, and jumping out of my skin
when the coconuts fall
stopping fast when the lizards zip past
having baby panic attacks in the shower
when distant door slams sound like blasts
But I’m trying – here in paradise
missing your laugh, missing mine
while fixing my margarita or
pouring my wine
I’m here regretting the years
we’ve lost to Old Man Time
I feel like I’m alone on an island
I’ll remember the golden aura
around the moon
as you go your own way
I’ll remember all the wonderful
things we wanted to do, someday
here, alone on this island
I’ll remain, I have to stay
My son drew this last year. Last year was a hard year. Challenging behaviors that got worse worsened and I wonder how that’s even possible. But here I am staring at this beautiful picture that he drew, that didn’t win the Rare Artist contest, but who cares? It is still flipping awesome. Layer upon layer of oil pastel. I could, in fact, make an oil pastel chip cookie from the extra wax bulging from this picture. But that is what he does. More and more and more of whatever he is fascinated with, or not so nicely put, whatever he is OCD’ing about. But this I can handle – because at the end of the binge is something positive to show for it. I walk into his room and collect his art, as if on a treasure hunt, and I keep the ones that evoke a response from me. A smile, perhaps a wince, because they aren’t always neat and pretty. Sometimes the pictures involve teeth, lots of pointy teeth. Why does he draw the pointy teeth? Why does he so easily drift to the dark side?
I remember when he was little he was stuck on painting a red smiley face on crisp white paper. It always made me happy. One such painting on canvas was bought for $100 through a tuberous sclerosis charity auction. It was a proud moment. But after a couple of years – the layers of stacked red smiles became a little too much. I begged for him to draw/paint something different. After a few houses and sunsets – he graduated to complete faces. Some are like the above face but most are not as nice. He titled the drawing above, Mummis, layer after layer of colors that represent both an explosion of emotions and an entrapment of emotions. Again, how is that possible? For my son it’s possible because he lives with “Mummis” everyday. For him to feel sadness, frustration, boredom, hopelessness, confusion, embarrassment, anger, frankly any emotion without the capability to express it often leads to the explosions. Explosions of sadness manifest as anger which leaps out in acts of aggression. Layer upon layer of emotions that for him can be catastrophic.
I like Mummis. In this still form on paper it appears to be pensive, even peaceful. Peaceful—the opposite of my life right now. I could layer and layer that forever.